One of the most popular and influential games of the 1980's, Pac-Man stars a little, yellow dot-muncher who works his way around to clear a maze of the various dots and fruit which inhabit the board.
Pac-Man's goal is continually challenged by four ghosts: The shy blue ghost Bashful (Inky), the trailing red ghost Shadow (Blinky), the fast pink ghost Speedy (Pinky), and the forgetful orange ghost Pokey (Clyde). One touch from any of these ghosts means a loss of life for Pac-Man.
Pac-Man can turn the tables on his pursuers by eating of the four Energizers located within the maze. During this time, the ghosts turn blue, and Pac-Man can eat them for bonus points. This only lasts for a limited amount of time, as the ghost's eyes float back to their center box, and regenerate to chase after Pac-Man again.
Survive a few rounds of gameplay, and be treated to humorous intermissions between Pac-Man and the ghosts.
March 7, 2015 Subject:
Blame It On Pac-Man?
I don’t know why Pac-Man gets such a bad rap. It, so the story goes (along with the E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial game), was responsible for the video game crash of ’83 and eventually the destruction Atari itself, yet Pac-Man sold more cartridges than any other 2600 title.* Everyone had it and everyone played it. Critics said the graphics sucked and it wasn’t as good as the arcade version, but come on. Everyone—and I do mean everyone save the most clueless of parents—knew that a 2600 version of any arcade game was going to be an inferior version, often vastly inferior.
In those days if you wanted better graphics and game play you had limited options. You could buy a better home console system but there was no guarantee the system would be around the next year while the 2600 was sure thing. Plus, a new system cost a lot of money and back then it was difficult explaining to parents why it was needed when, from their clueless point of view, you already had a perfectly good video game toy. Thanks dad.** Another option was to bite the bullet and buy a PC, but good luck with that. In today’s dollars a decent PC cost around six to seven thousand dollars, far beyond the budget of most households no matter how much manure you shoveled around about how it would help you with your schoolwork. Nice try kiddo.***
The only real option you had was to go to the arcade, and why not? It was the golden age of the video arcade! A home console was just a way to get your daily fix until you could go to where the REAL action was. The arcade was where it was happening. It was where all the hot new games were with graphics that would blow away the best a PC could offer. It was also easier to promise to get out of your parents hair for a few hour if they would just give you a few dollars—a lot easier! Furthermore, an entire generation before the advent of online gaming, the arcade was where you went to test yourself against the skills of your fellow video addicts. It was one thing to be the king of the living room, but it was quite another to be a top dog at the arcade. Like today you rarely met your opponents face-to-face. They were just initials on the high score screen whom you battled when you could stop by. On the other hand, if you became a daily regular (easier once you got a driver’s license) other addicts would connect your face to your initials. Yeah sure, nobody cared who the best Mr. Do player was, but you could get a rep if you were good on a “cool” game like Defender, or Zaxxon, or Pole Position or … Pac-Man.
So when Pac-Man came out on the 2600, and you asked if it was any good, you were told it was fine. Okay, so the ghosts flickered, and I’ve read that the designer was rushed to get the game out, but so what? Even if he was given extra time I doubt the end product would be any better. It wasn’t “the” Pac-Man but it was at least “a” Pac-Man: no more, and (thank God) no less. Ultimately it was just another cartridge you could play for simple king-of-the-living-room bragging rights, or something to pass the time on after you spent all of your parent’s money at the arcade.
I give Pac-Man 3/5 stars because I don’t really care for the maze chase genre. If you’re a fan, however, call it 4/5. Sadly Pac-Man is currently not available to play in the Archive.
*It sold around 7 million cartridges. Unfortunately Atari anticipated selling 12 million so 5 million cartridges sat around gathering dust, but hey, that was management’s problem not the game’s.
**To be fair it was THEIR hard-earned money you were looking to spend. Even today’s parents (who played video games as kids and therefore understand the need for an upgrade) will balk at the cost of an upgrade. Yeah, put it on your Xmas list kiddo.
***In this case the kids were much more farsighted then their parents, but did I mention it was THEIR money?